Vivien Leigh ~ The British Legend

Vivien Leigh In Color

Vivien Leigh was an Oscar winning British movie star who struggled with mental illness.

She was born Vivian Mary Hartley on November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, India. When she was six years old her parents took her to England so she could get a better education. After seeing her first play Vivien decided she wanted to become an actress. She married Herbert Leigh Holman, a London barrister, in 1932, and had a daughter named Suzanne. Vivien started her career performing on the London stage. She got small parts in movies like Things Are Looking Up and A Yank At Oxford. While making Fire Over England in 1937 Vivien began an affair with her married costar Laurence Olivier. They both divorced their spouses so they could be together. Vivien was one of dozens of actresses who auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 epic Gone With The Wind. She got the part and won an Academy Award for her iconic performance. In 1940 she married Laurence but they had a tumultuous relationship and he often cheated on her. Meanwhile Vivien, who was bi-sexual, had numerous affairs with men and women. Laurence told his friends that Vivien was a nymphomaniac.

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Vivien Leigh

She desperately wanted to have another child but she suffered several miscarriages. Vivien worked with Claude Rains in Caesar And Cleopatra and with Robert Taylor in Waterloo Bridge (which was her favorite film). She won a second Oscar in 1952 for her performance in A Streetcar Named Desire. Vivien had a passionate affair with Peter Finch and considered leaving her husband for him. During the production of Elephant Walk in 1954 she had a nervous breakdown and was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor. As she got older Vivien's behavior became erratic and she was diagnosed with manic depression. On numerous occasions she threatened to commit suicide and had to be hospitalized. Laurence divorced her in 1960 after he fell in love another woman. Soon After Vivien started a romance with actor John Merivale. In 1963 she starred on Broadway in the musical Tovarich and won a Tony Award. Her final film was the 1965 drama Ship Of Fools. Vivien died on July 7, 1967 from tuberculosis. She was just fifty-three years old. Her ashes were scattered at her London home.

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